This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" by Mitch Albom. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.
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Who is The Five People You Meet in Heaven “Captain” character? What does he do in the story to help Eddie on his journey?
In The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the Captain was Eddie’s former commanding officer in the war. The Captain helps Eddie make sense of his past experiences.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven: The Captain
Eddie finds himself in a desolate terrain. This is a place that has haunted Eddie for years. There are booming noises in the sky above him. Eddie army crawls through the mud to hide under a bush. After a while, he hears a familiar voice from high in the tree above him. Eddie is carried up into the tree, and sees his old Captain from the war. In The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the Captain helps Eddie deal with confusion and regret.
Eddie’s Memories of War
Eddie enlisted for the war thinking that it would make him a man. He learned a lot of lessons from his time in the military, especially from his time in captivity.
Eddie was taken prisoner along with the Captain and three other men: Smitty, Morton, and Rabozzo. He suffered terrible conditions, including watching Rabozzo be shot in the head. The Five People You Meet in Heaven Captain character guides Eddie through these memories.
One day, Eddie convinced his guard to let him juggle some rocks. Eddie threw the rocks into the faces of the guards, and the prisoners were able to fight for their freedom. They killed their captors and decided to burn down the barracks.
Just as Eddie sent the last building up in flames, he saw a small shadow moving inside. He became manic, thinking he left a child burning inside. He couldn’t bring himself to leave the burning building until he felt an intense pain in his leg.
Sometime later, Eddie woke up in a medical unit. He learned that he’d been shot in the leg, and the wound will never fully heal. After that, Eddie was never the same. In The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the Captain helps Eddie understand why.
The Captain’s Story
The Captain looks straight at Eddie and tells him that he was the one who shot Eddie in the leg all those years ago. He knew that Eddie would never have been able to leave that burning building, so he had to take Eddie’s leg to save Eddie’s life.
Later that night, the Captain was driving the transport with an unconscious Eddie in the back. He hopped out to look for danger on the road ahead. Just as he signalled to his soldiers that the road was clear, a land mine exploded under his foot. The Captain was launched into the air and torn into a hundred pieces.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven: The Captain’s Lesson
In The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the Captain tells Eddie that he’s been waiting for him all this time because he has a lesson that Eddie needs to hear. He says that sacrifice is a part of life that we are meant to be proud of. He asks for Eddie’s forgiveness for shooting him in the leg. Realizing that the Captain sacrificed his own life to save Eddie’s, Eddie shakes the Captain’s hand.
In The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the Captain is the first familiar face Eddie sees. The Captain helps Eddie make sense of past experiences so he can move on to his third person.
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Five People You Meet In Heaven summary:
- Who the Five People Eddie meets in heaven are
- What each person teaches Eddie about the meaning of his own life
- Why Eddie finally feels gratitude and closure at the end of his life